In Your Wildest Dreams

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The author of "The Red Diary" pens an irresistible erotic romance about a woman posing as an escort to find her sister, and the sexy bartender who helps her. Original.

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Overview

The author of "The Red Diary" pens an irresistible erotic romance about a woman posing as an escort to find her sister, and the sexy bartender who helps her. Original.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446614870
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/1/2005
  • Series: Warner Forever Ser.
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Blake
Toni Blake

Toni Blake's lifelong love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Soon after, she penned her first novel—nineteen notebook pages long. Since then, Toni has become a multi-published, RITA®-nominated author of contemporary romance novels that are both sexy and heartwarming. Toni lives with her husband in the Midwest and, when not writing, she enjoys traveling, quilting, and scrapbooking.

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Read an Excerpt

In Your Wildest Dreams


By Toni Blake

Warner Forever

Copyright © 2005 Toni Herzog
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-61487-4


Chapter One

It was only by chance that she sat before a mirror as she rolled the silk stocking up her leg. She saw herself in the glass, wearing only the stocking and a pair of satin cream-colored panties.

"Get a thong," Melody had instructed her. "It'll make you feel sexier."

Stephanie had ignored that part. She hadn't particularly wanted to feel sexy.

But as the second stocking whispered up the smooth skin of her calf, thigh, the lace top resting only a couple of inches from her crotch, a hint of titillation rose there, unbidden.

"It takes more than a pretty dress," Melody had said. "You have to feel it. Sell it. You have to be it, or you'll never fool anybody."

Sell it. Those were the two words she'd plucked from Melody's advice. If Stephanie was adept at anything, it was selling. Products. Pitches. This was a little different, of course. No, a lot different. But that didn't mean she couldn't pull it off.

She glanced back at the cheval mirror in the corner of her room. She'd never seen herself look so purely sexual.

Getting to her feet, she stepped into the ivory cocktail dress, sliding her arms through spaghetti-thin shoulder straps, reaching behind to the zipper. The fabric pulled close, again sending an unexpected tendril of awareness through her body. Awareness of self, of her own sensuality.

Strange, the journeys life led a person on-strange what someone could make themselves do for love. If anyone who knew her could see her now-sexy dress, strappy shoes, about to plunge into a decadent city's underworld-they wouldn't believe it. She could hardly believe it herself.

Fastening a bracelet, she glanced to the bedside clock. Ten-thirty. "Plan to arrive just before eleven," Melody had said. "That's prime time at the hunt."

A fresh shot of trepidation whirred through her. Wait a few minutes and maybe you can convince yourself it's too late, past prime time. You can take off this silly dress, put on pajamas, and watch TV or read a book.

Only problem was, if she didn't go tonight, she'd have to go tomorrow night, or the next night. And every night she talked herself out of it was another night Tina was missing.

Letting out a sigh, she took one last look in the mirror. She didn't even recognize herself.

Maybe that was a good thing.

Half an hour later, a cab pulled to a stop on an ancient, narrow street, delivering her to her destination. She felt sinfully beautiful. She felt naked. She wished she were anywhere else.

"Chez Sophia," the driver said.

She handed the polite middle-aged man a ten over the seat. "Keep the change."

Stepping out into the sultry night, she watched the taxi dart away and battled a brief second of feeling too alone. Put her in front of a roomful of hard-nosed CEOs in a sharply cut suit and she was a confident, eloquent woman in perfect control of everything around her. The stark contrast of where she was-who she was-tonight, struck once more.

Yet she'd come too far to turn back. So she took a deep breath and turned toward Chez Sophia, staring up at elegant fern-hung balconies, all curving wrought iron and grace. That quickly, the aura of the place began to surround her, the sensation nearly as cloying as the sticky air.

Moving toward the front entrance in heels that clicked on the sidewalk with each stride, she subtly tugged upward on the bodice of her low-cut dress in some last-minute stab at self-preservation.

But no. She wasn't here to be herself. All her suits were at home. She'd come to be someone else-someone she could never really be. Biting her lip, she gently pulled the clingy fabric back down, maximizing her cleavage. Feel beautiful. Not naked.

"Good evening, miss. Welcome to Chez Sophia." The twenty-something doorman wore a white shirt, red vest, black tie.

She manufactured a smile. Sell it. "Thank you."

He motioned toward the interior of the grand saloon, abuzz with people drinking, smoking, laughing. A Dixieland trio played in one corner, the large bass briefly drawing her eye. "Our high-tech dance club is straight down the hallway, the Zydeco Lounge is to the right, and-"

"I'm here for the private party." That's what Melody had told her to say.

The doorman's eyes changed. To disappointment? Lust? Surely she was thinking too much. Either way, his gaze dropped boldly to her cleavage before he brought it back to her face. That's all she was tonight-cleavage, curves.

"Through the doorway past the stairwell," he said.

"Thank you." But she could no longer meet his eyes. Damn it, you're supposed to be selling it.

As she walked farther into the club, she decided now would be a good time to start doing just that. If all you are is cleavage and curves, sell that. Feel it. Be it. Like Melody said. Just for tonight. Everything depended on it.

Men watched as she passed, clearly thinking her a different sort of woman than she was, even without the knowledge of the "private party" she'd come for, and again the juncture of her thighs suffered a slight tingle. Strange, maybe even shameful, to feel that now, yet as she was drawn more deeply into the place, she understood Melody's advice. She couldn't do this halfway. If she were to pull it off, she had to let herself feel every forbidden bit of it. So as she exited the door past the stairwell, she attempted to relish the fresh sensitivity in her breasts, to embrace the soft, slight throb between her thighs.

A large, dark-skinned man wearing a familiar red vest and black tie waited outside the door. "Private party?"

"Yes." She'd turned the one simple word silky, sexy. Practice.

"All the way to the top." He pointed up a wooden stairway painted white. Old brick walls surrounded the steps on all sides, and as she ascended, she realized she was outside again, in an enclosed courtyard. It seemed as if she were traveling a maze to reach the soiree tucked deeply within Chez Sophia-but she supposed that made sense. A thin line of perspiration trickled between her breasts.

Four half-flights of stairs later, she found another doorman, this one young, blond. "Welcome to Sophia's private party." He held the door open with a ready smile.

A wild sense of nervousness barreled down through her chest as the reality of what she was about to do struck her full force. But as she entered the room through red velvet curtains drawn back by gold cord, she struggled again to condense her feelings to the sensual, the sexual-nothing more.

The scene before her was awash in elegance, from the crystal chandeliers to the gentle clink of wineglasses to the soft jazz permeating the air. Men in well-tailored suits stood chatting with beautiful women in cocktail dresses, some shimmering with sequins and beads. Others sat on the plush couches and graceful divans that sprinkled the space in bold splashes of scarlet, amethyst, cobalt.

That's when it hit her. I can do this. Outwardly, the crowd didn't appear unlike those in her world. This was just another cocktail party. The only difference was that instead of selling an ad campaign, tonight she was selling herself.

She scanned the crowd for Tina. Her heart sank when she didn't find her, but she hadn't expected it to be that simple anyway, and now she had to mingle, pretend, convince. She had to flirt. But she was horrible at flirting, so even if this was all about selling, something she could do, she needed a drink to bolster her courage.

Clutching her small sateen purse tightly, she made a beeline for the long mahogany bar to one side of the luxurious room. A dark-haired guy stood behind the expanse of polished wood operating a blender, his back to her, as she climbed up onto a bar stool. A moment later, he stopped the blender and turned. "What would you like?"

Her heart nearly stopped just from looking into his eyes. He was everything she'd never been attracted to. Rugged. Unshaven. Unabashedly sexual without even trying. Midnight black hair framed his strong face, along with several days' stubble curving across his upper lip and chin. One wayward lock of hair dipped onto his forehead, drawing attention to deep, sensual brown eyes. Warm and chocolaty, a place to drown. A black T-shirt stretched across a muscular chest and broad shoulders, a hint of a tattoo peeking from beneath one sleeve. The forbidden sense of arousal already coursing through her veins deepened.

He cocked his head slightly. "Did you want a drink, beb?"

She finally caught her breath. "Um, yes. A Chardonnay, please."

As he reached for a stemmed glass, she dug in her purse, placing a twenty on the bar, all the while fighting her reaction to him. This wasn't her. She didn't get excited by a guy on mere sight. Especially not one who looked so ... dangerous.

When he lowered her wine to a square napkin, his eyes fell on the cash. "What's that for?"

She blinked. "The wine."

His narrowed gaze only added to the sensations between her thighs. "Ladies don't pay."

She softly pulled in her breath. "Oh. Right." His tone said she should have known that. She shoved the bill back into her purse, then reached for the glass, taking a large swallow.

"First time here?"

What sort of accent was that? Something slightly Cajun? "Um, yes." She nodded, softly, trying to quit feeling like a schoolgirl. Here she'd finally begun to think she could control this situation as efficiently as she controlled the rest of her life, and this darkly sexy man was already turning her soft and vulnerable, emotions equally as foreign as the sensuality currently pummeling her.

Time to take back control, to start doing what she'd come here for. And the bartender seemed like a good place to start.

Sell it, she reminded herself, reassuming her silky voice. "I was hoping to run into a friend of mine here. Maybe you know her. Tina Grant?"

His brows knit slightly, making her wonder what he found perplexing about the question. "Your friend in the escort business, too?"

She nodded.

He shook his head lightly. "No, chère, afraid the name doesn't ring a bell."

Strike one. Fortunately for her, she had more than three tries, but just like when she'd first entered the room, she'd simply hoped against hope that maybe she wouldn't have to look any further.

As she took another sip of wine, his slow smile blazed all through her, heating her skin with the same force as the sun breaking through the clouds on a hot summer day.

"What are you smiling at?" She forgot the silky voice, too curious to find out what prompted that wicked grin.

"Just thinkin' you probably been sittin' on that stool longer than anyone ever has."

She lowered her chin, confused. "Oh?"

"Girls don't come here to sit and have a quiet glass of wine, chère. They come to work. They don't usually waste time." He shifted his eyes to the crowded room behind her and her chest tightened. "Not that it's any of my business," he went on, "but it's after eleven. Place'll start clearin' out soon."

She opened her eyes wider. "So early?" Melody hadn't mentioned that.

He gave a soft laugh. "This isn't exactly the main event of the evenin', you know." Then he tilted his head, his warm eyes penetrating her defenses. "Your first time here, or your first time period?"

For some reason, she refused to let him think she was brand-new at this. He already seemed to have the upper hand, and she didn't intend to let him keep it. "Just my first time here. And I'm not in a hurry."

He shrugged. "Suit yourself. But I'd hate to see that pretty dress and hairdo go to waste."

The sentiment reminded her once more: she was cleavage and curves tonight.

In her world, how you looked was only one part of your identity; here, everything was about the business of flesh. "Maybe you're right." She slipped down from the stool and lifted her glass. "I should ... get to work."

His expression softened, but his eyes still had the power to burn into her soul-or at least the spot between her legs. "Good luck, chère."

That escalating sensation-no longer just awareness or sensuality, now pure desire-persisted as she immersed herself into the crowd. She took another sip of wine and repeated her new mantra in her mind: Sell it. Sell it.

Although, admittedly, part of her remained back on the stool peering up at the bartender. What had come over her? It's just the dress, she told herself. And the evening's quest. That was the only reason her body had reacted so strongly to the guy.

Just as she wandered aimlessly through a sea of suits and slinky dresses, wondering what her next move should be, a man's hand fell on her shoulder. She hated his touch instantly, the clammy feel of his palm on her bare skin, but forced a smile.

"Hi there, honey. You new in town? Don't think I've seen you before." The pushing-fifty guy sported a deep Southern accent and a beer belly beneath his expensive black suit. His graying hair looked unkempt, the style too long for a man his age.

Sell it. Unfortunately, it was much harder with him than with the bartender. "Um, yes, this is my first night here."

"That so? Why, I'd be more than happy to break ya in ... so to speak." He winked. "I'm stayin' at the Fairmont. Real fancy place-we can get it on in style." He concluded with a laugh that made her stomach churn.

"I'm ... sorry," she said, "but I'm already ... spoken for. I'm meeting someone here. A prearranged date."

He looked crestfallen. "Well, I'm mighty sorry to hear that. But what say we get together another time real soon?"

She sighed. "Um ... perhaps. I'm sure I'll bump into you again."

He flashed a leering grin. "That sounds damn good. I'll be lookin' forward to it."

As he was about to move off in search of greener pastures, she remembered her mission-and reached up to touch his sleeve. His lusty gaze beamed down on her. "Maybe you can help me with something. I was hoping to find a friend of mine here-she's fairly new in town, too. Her name is Tina-"

"I ain't much good with names, honey."

"She's blond, twenty-five, has a light complexion, and ..." She trailed off, realizing she'd just described around a third of the women in the room.

Above her, the beer belly shook his head absently. "Sorry," he said, taking off into the crowd, clearly uninterested in helping her if she wasn't going to be in his bed tonight.

Jake Broussard popped a mint in his mouth and kept an eye on the blonde moving through the crowd. She was trying her damnedest to look poised and relaxed, but something about her didn't ring true. Maybe she acted a little too sophisticated, or maybe her updo was a little too severe, precise-not one pretty golden hair out of place. Not that he hadn't met plenty of working girls who pulled it off with class, but for some reason, he didn't quite buy Miss Chardonnay's claim of being a pro.

"Pour me another, Jake. And a second glass of wine for the lady."

He drew his gaze to Charles Winthrop, a married forty-something scotch-on-the-rocks who came in every Thursday night for a little adultery. The lady on his arm this evening was Tawney, a brunette Chablis who couldn't be a day over eighteen.

"Sure," Jake replied, scooping ice into a glass and reaching for Winthrop's favorite brand of scotch.

As he poured the drinks, Winthrop slid one hand from Tawney's hip up to the side of her breast. "Drink up, honey, and we'll head to a hotel."

Winthrop handed Jake a twenty and said, "Keep the rest." A common statement from the men who climbed the steps to Sophia's secret third floor. They figured big tips bought Jake's discretion.

What they didn't know was that he didn't care. He didn't care that Winthrop was screwing around on his wife, and he didn't care that, at the moment, he was doing it with an obscenely young girl, likely younger than Winthrop's own daughters. Once upon a time, he did care-about people, about righting wrongs, about trying to fix things in his own little corner of the world. But those days were gone.

"Have a good evenin'," he murmured as the couple strolled away. He didn't mean it. But he didn't not mean it, either. He really didn't give a damn either way, so long as he earned his paycheck. That's what life was about for Jake the last two years-earning a paycheck, and sleeping.

The paycheck was easy-he worked at Chez Sophia a few nights a week, setting his own schedule. It didn't take too many hours behind this particular bar to make a decent living when you picked up hundred percent tips all night long. And as for the sleeping, it was getting better lately. He hadn't had a nightmare in a couple of months.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from In Your Wildest Dreams by Toni Blake Copyright © 2005 by Toni Herzog. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hot and Steamy!!

    Toni Blake does it again! The scenes in this book are hot and steamy - perfect for the Louisiana setting. The Jake and Stephanie are brought to life through Ms. Blake's writing. Ms. Blake does an excellent job in keeping you captivated throughout this book. Fabulous book!! This was the first book I have read of hers and she has made me a loyal fan!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2005

    Sexy and classy...

    A terrific read! Stephanie and Jake light up the New Orleans night (and days too!) with the kind of sizzling love scenes you can always count on in a novel from Ms. Blake. Best of all, she manages to deliver yet another book that's more than just a super-sexy romance... it's a story with real heart. You'll be cheering for Stephanie and Jake - and the supporting cast too - every step of the way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2005

    This book Sizzles

    In Your Wildest Dreams by Toni Blake is a richly deeply sensual tale.______ Stephanie Grant leaves her high paying advertising job to go to New Orleans. Her younger sister is missing and she turns to the world of high-class escorts to find Tina. Stephanie¿s first night at Chez Sophia doesn¿t go as planned. She is in over her head with this type of life but she meets a man who is will to help her find her sister.______ Jake Broussard, ex cop, now bartender is still reeling from a tragedy in his past. He has cut himself off from this old life but seeing Stephanie brings him back to feeling again. Jake feels the need to protect Stephanie though she doesn¿t think she needs protection. ______ While looking for her sister they go deeper into the steamy world of New Orleans. Jake and Stephanie explode in the erotic world of desire and emotions. Their attraction is one of the most provocative in print. Jake and Stephanie also overcome issues from long ago to grow and blossom. ______ Toni Blake writes a stellar story. She weaves the steamy side along with a compelling story that grabs you and makes you want more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2005

    THE perfect book for Summer!

    Toni Blake¿s newest novel, IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS, is her best yet! Sensual, sultry, and spicy just like her Cajun setting. Her heart-warming characters, Jake Broussard and Stephanie Grant are witty, strong and believable, with such a powerful attraction that you won¿t be able to put this book down! The talented Ms. Blake creates stories that melt you and leave you breathless at the same time. Make this a MUST have for your summer reading list! But make sure you take it to the pool or beach; you¿ll need to cool down after this scorching read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2005

    A MUST SUMMER READ!!!

    Toni Blake's books just get better and better as she continues to delight us with her talent in creating believable, desirable characters and weaving wonderful stories. 'In Your Wildest Dreams' is a sultry and intelligent love story that also deals with big mysteries for both main characters, Stephanie Grant and Jake Broussard. Stephanie Grant is sexy, smart and foolishly brave. Jake Broussard is so hot you will melt! I predict New Orleans will be on everyone's vacation list after reading this book. I'm tempted to buy an extra copy just to send to the New Orleans Visitor's and Convention Bureau!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2005

    Wow-- Amazing Book

    Sensual and steamy and so many other emotions. Jake was just YUMMY!! His voice came through so well I could hear him whispering all those sexy phrases. I loved his pet names for Stephanie & Shondra. It was mysterious and sensual and did I say Sexy?? I just kept reading all night. The ending was such a twist. Not too give anything away- but it gripes you to the very last page.

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